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Out of Clutter, Find Simplicity

Updated: Jun 4, 2022

This contemplation for the day, is to find simplicity. The quote above comes from Albert Einstein's three rules at work.

1) Out of Clutter, find simplicity

2) From discord, find harmony

3) In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity

- by John Archibald Wheeler

How do I find simplicity?

The act to find, begins the search, the desire. The thought.

Where attention goes, energy flows.

  1. Is there anything more simple than simply breathing?

  2. What can I do without to make me feel happier?

  3. What is the smallest little thing that I can be grateful for?

These techniques help to reframe and prioritize what is important. Which is the underlying desire which resulted in the clutter, and its wisdom, which is the purpose it serves. In this article, I explore deeper on the virtue of purposefulness and using this virtue as a compass to govern decisions to simplify and bring order to a cluttered physical, mental and emotional environment.

Albert Einstein quote on simplicity

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Albert Einstein

These quotes are embodies Albert Einstein's wisdom about keeping things simple. In modern era, the commercial buzzword is to 'Keep things simple, stupid' or KISS in short. The genius of this quote is its depth in these short but poignant statements.

Simplicity however, is not easy. It is a craft honed in productivity and purpose, and refined with regular practice. You must be able to strip away all the unnecessary and focus on what matters i.e. being purposeful. Perhaps the first wisdom from these 2 quotes about clutter and simplicity is the virtue of being purposeful.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity to find your purpose

The cluttered physical, emotional and mental space traps us in desolate feelings of confusion, anxiety, stress, fear, being overwhelmed, and many more associated feelings. However, in the midst of such difficult times, we take the complex situation and first see it for what it really is, a mess!

Acknowledging the clutter and the mess is a great way to start. This is the first step to create a space apart from your mental, physical clutter. Through mindfulness, you may use your breath to slow down and guide consoling feelings such as curiosity about the mess, to a safe headspace of recluse, of wonder, of amazement.

Wisdom from clutter first indicates some sign of attachment to what the clutter is, or represents. It is a desire. For example, if I am overwhelmed emotionally by acts of service to my loved ones that I begin to feel mentally drained and physically fatigued, the acceptance of the mess and its negative feelings flag out 1 important wisdom - this is my way of showing I love them. The desire to love someone (or something) is pure and good. Over attachment to the desire corrodes the initial pure intent into a burden of responsibility.

This foundational wisdom serves to highlight the next level 2 wisdom. What is the purpose of my clutter? In the example of physical clutter for example, my desire to appreciate beautiful objects in itself is a pure and good intent. Through a build up of my attachment to such objects, I fear letting them go. In this situation, the fear is a distortion of the initial intent, and its associated feelings of anxiety to clear the physical space builds up, creating stress, worries and fear of judgment.

Being purposeful is going back to the root of the pure and good intention, which was the desire to love and possess beautiful physical products. Perhaps the intention has deeper associations to the belief that having such objects in one's possession creates an identity that is valued by the person e.g. having a large collection of clothes in my wardrobe allows me to dress the best for every occasion and to look good. This understanding leads to uncovering purpose. In this case, the purpose of purchase is to buy nice clothes to look good, but more importantly to feel good and to be valued by self and by others.

Being purposeful in this case would be to make decisions and act from the root desire and not focus on the patchworks. The root desire is to build up the self-love and appreciation of beauty from within and without. Instead of more clothes, one maybe better served by only having the best 5 or 10 pieces of clothing for work, social gatherings, formal engagements or it could be the top 3 of every color. More importantly, the emotion of feeling loved and being appreciated and being affirmed by loved ones could be the solution.

The emotions attached to a cluttered headspace

When you have a cluttered headspace, it can be difficult to focus on anything. Sometimes this can be because you are feeling overwhelmed with too many tasks and responsibilities. Others may be feeling unfocused and constantly distracted. When you feel like your headspace is cluttered, try to focus on the positive memories and memories of times when you were able to focus on one task at a time. Remember the emotions attached to this time in your life.

In the present moment, we see things as they are. Acknowledge the clutter and look keenly for the emotions that are present. Invite them in, and explore where they are in your body. Each emotion and especially negative feelings provide insights and wisdom. They are neither good nor bad, they are messengers. When we identify these emotions, we ask ourselves why they are there.

Ask with curiosity. What are the underlying desires that result in the emotions surfacing? Take a deep breath, explore your inner belief system and presumptions which resulted in the clutter or over complex situation.

Go back to the original desire and try to be purposeful. Ask this question of yourself, how may I better fulfil my desire and what is the 1 thing that I need to do to achieve this?

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